Protect Your Hearing while Using Headphones
Do you listen to headphones for music or podcasts? Most of us do at some point. Since the invention of the Sony Walkman in 1979, headphones have become an institution for listening to media privately while we run, workout or simply tune out other sounds around us. However, with the convenience comes a high risk to our hearing if we don’t listen responsibly.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Sounds inform us of the world around us. They can bring calm or elation- especially when our favorite song comes on. It’s normal to want to turn the volume up, the vibrations can truly be felt in your body. However, you also have to consider the risk to your hear. The volume of sound is measured in decibels (dBA). Sounds under 85 dBA for eight hours or less is generally fine for your hearing, but once it reaches this mark you could risk permanent hearing damage. The higher the decibel level past a safe listening threshold, the shorter the time it takes for damage to occur. For every three decibels increase the time it takes for damage to occur shrinks. At 88 dBA it only takes four hours and by the time the level is at 95 dBA it can take less than an hour!
The risk of hearing loss from headphone use
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently states that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of potentially life-altering hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise. When we are young its all too common to not think of consequences to your health. While many younger people put their hearing at risk at bars, clubs and music venues without thinking of the consequences, even more will continue to do so without even leaving the house!
WHO estimates that young people are most at risk of hearing damage since those under 35 are more likely to listen to music using mobile devices than other age groups? WHO suggests 50% of this age demographic are most likely listening to music on headphones at unsafe levels.
Can earphones damage your hearing?
Headphones can be listened to completely safely. Dr Edmund Farrar and Dr George Leidig, founders of the tinnitus support app, Oto explain, “Provided you take the necessary precautions, headphones should not cause any issues,” they advise.
However, many people will listen at volume levels which can range as high as 110 dBA—loud enough to damage hearing in less than 15 minuets. Due to the seemingly endless hours of available media, many can listen for hours on end and causing hearing damage which can last a lifetime!
How loud should the sound from your headphones be?
Keep in mind that it is not just the level of sound which is to be considered but the length of exposure. Because the recording of some songs or movies can be louder than others, it can be difficult to set a firm boundary around how loud a sound can be. To stay safe, it’s recommended to keep the volume on your devices, no louder than 60 percent of the potential volume and take listening breaks every 30 to 60 minuets. This can give the cells of your ears a chance to rest and prevent damage which can result in permanent damage.
Dr Farrar and Dr Leidig explain that “a good rule of thumb is usually to keep your headphones at less than 60% total volume, but this will of course vary between manufacturers. Some, like Apple’s iPhone, monitor safe noise levels and you can see this data in the Health app.”
Why protect your hearing?
Many people underestimate the importance of hearing and the impact of hearing loss across an individual’s life. When hearing goes unaddressed it can lead to a wide range of emotional, cognitive, and physical impacts on an individual. This can include rifts on personal and professional relationships, higher rates of unemployment, lower earnings at work, chronic depression, social isolation, cognitive decline, elevated risk of dementia and a higher risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitalization.
Addressing a hearing loss
If you do suspect you have a hearing loss, it’s important to act sooner than later. Contact us today to set up your next hearing exam and get in control of your hearing health now!